This continued indifference and silence in bringing justice to the victims of continued communal violence in Bangladesh have created a culture of impunity for extremists to engage in communal violence. The result is a growing trend towards fanatical views among the religious majority. When perpetrators go unpunished despite attacking the Hindu community time and again, it only encourages the fundamentalists causing massive security risk having the potential to cause growing internal conflict among different communities in the country.
One of those instances of intolerance through spread of disinformation is the case of Paritosh Sarker. Paritosh Sarker allegedly posted a derogatory Facebook status about the holy Kaaba, Islam’s holiest site, in October 2021. After the post went viral, tensions rose in his village, Pirganj.
Paritosh, on the other hand, is known in his village as a rational, calm, and innocent young man. After finishing high school, the 16-year-old boy from Kashiba Majhipara in Ramnathpur Union enrolled in college.
Following that, the teenager and his family fled the village. Later, a mob burned down 20 houses in his village of Kashiba Majhipara. During the attack, over 60 families were impacted. Police used rubber bullets to control the situation during the attack.
Photo: The attackers vandalised Paritosh’s house and they also burned his neighbour Upen’s house to ashed. Upen was thrown to the ground, stomped and beaten. https://www.tbsnews.net/bangladesh/nowhere-run-nowhere-hide-317893
On 17 October 2021, Saikat and one of his accomplices, Rabiul Islam, were apprehended for inciting a mob to burn down Hindu homes and shops in Rangpur’s Pirganj upazila. RAB claimed that Saikat spread false information on Facebook while Rabiul and others gathered zealots for the attack using a local mosque’s loudspeaker.
Photo: Thirty-six-year-old Minti Rani, another victim, wondered why everyone in the community had to pay for the actions of one person. “We have not committed any crimes. If Paritosh has done something, he should be punished. Why should we be tortured like this?” https://www.tbsnews.net/bangladesh/nowhere-run-nowhere-hide-317893
According to the RAB spokesperson, the attack was carried out due to personal conflicts involving Saikat and two others — Uzzal Hossen and Paritosh Sarkar — who were arrested by the RAB over the matter.
Uzzal took a screenshot of a Facebook post shared by Paritosh and sent it to Saikat, who later shared it on his Facebook account along with some texts. The post was made to incite people.
Saikat Mandal was accused in a case filed under the Digital Security Act while Rabiul Islam was accused in the arson attack, looting, vandalism and violence case.
Police also arrested Paritosh Sarker under the Digital Security Act over giving a provocative post on Facebook hurting sentiment of Islam before the violence took place in Priganj of Rangpur.
|Prime Actor:It was a personal conflict between Uzzal Hossen and Paritosh Sarkar. Uzzal hurled offensive remarks about the religion of Poritosh. Later Poritosh encountered with abusive words to the religion of Uzzal on Facebook messenger. Uzzal posted the Poritosh’s comment to the Facebook, which was reposted by Saikat.Saikat Mandal also instigated locals to carry out attacks and set fire to the houses of Hindu community in Pirganj via posting fake statuses on Facebook.||Intent: Suggests aspersive behaviour||Paritosh Sarker allegedly posted a derogatory Facebook status about the holy Kaaba, Islam’s holiest site. Saikat spread false information on Facebook using Paritosh’s post.|
Harm: The content manipulated people and led to communal violence against Hindu community.
Narrative(s): The content is aligned with the disinformation narrative.
|Audience:People in general specifically targeted against Hindu community.|
|Human rights:Constitutes discrimination on grounds of race, religion or place of birth, right to life & personal liberty, freedom of religion, protection of home and correspondence.|
ABCDE Framework Analysis:
Saikat Mandal instigated locals to carry out attacks and set fire to the houses of Hindu community in Pirganj via posting fake statuses on Facebook. Saikat spread false information on Facebook using Paritosh Sarker’s name while Rabiul and others gathered zealots for the attack using a local mosque’s loudspeaker. Uzzal hurled offensive remarks about the religion of Poritosh. Later Poritosh encountered with abusive words to the religion of Uzzal on Facebook messenger. Uzzal posted the Poritosh’s comment to the Facebook, which reposted by Saikat.
Saikat started posting provocative statuses to the social media since the incident of the Holy Quran desecration in a puja mandap in Cumilla.
The fake statutes were made to instigate violence against Hindu community. They had the aspersive intention for posting such disinformation due to a personal conflict between Poritosh Sarker and Uzzal.
The content was related to a personal conflict between Poritosh and Uzzal who made offensive remarks about each other’s religion. However, Saikat took the advantage of the conflict between Poritosh and Uzzal to destroy the communal harmony by spreading false information.
The content was targeted against Hindu community. Facebook was used to disseminate the content on a wide scale without any verification to its truth.
The content constitutes discrimination on grounds of race, religion or place of birth, right to life & personal liberty, freedom of religion, protection of home and correspondence. The disinformation also destroyed communal harmony in Pirganj.
The Case has been identified as incident of disinformation because the content shows evidence of deliberately deceptive behavior through creation of fabricated post on Facebook to incite communal violence and attack on internal security.
Communal hatred has been at the root of many incidents of violence in places across Bangladesh. Incidents of violence against religious minorities on flimsy grounds made up from using social media have been increasing due to misuse of internet. Fake news spread via Facebook has triggered several communal clashes resulting in deaths in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is one of the fastest-growing countries of internet users in Asia. Among internet users, Facebook is the most popular social networking platform. But while the platform does contribute largely to making the voices of marginal communities heard, in recent years it has sparked some significant social and communal conflicts in the country. The responsibility for checking hate speech and rumours rests not only with Facebook authorities but also the subscribers using the platform. Facebook has urged the Bangladeshi government to develop Facebook users’ media literacy to help them use social media in a responsible manner.